Keeping ourselves in 'shape' is forefront on the mind during this time of year. Thanksgiving feasts, to Christmas events to New Year’s parties have a way of distorting the youthful figure that, when seen in the full-length mirror, causes the old heart to skip a beat thinking there is an ugly, obese intruder in the house. I personally do not have this problem because I have looked this dumpy as far back as high school. I do have winter routines on the farm that do keep the weight in the triple digits though. 

I have been urged by many to post these workout series in video form and put them on the market. This is the season of giving however, so in that vain (sic), I am offering these workouts free of charge.  All one needs to follow along is access to farm equipment like that is in use on our Brannon Farms (Unusually Green Acres) that is vintage enough to be pre-computer, and thus requires more brawn than brain to operate. So let us begin. 

The grain bin stair-master. Our grain bins have 26 strategically placed steps leading to the top ledge of the bin's eve. As I wind my way around the outside of the circular staircase, I always count the steps as I vertically progress. This performs two functions; one, it keeps the mind agile and on task and two, it prevents walking off the top platform to a non-healthful descent if you don't stop. As one pauses to catch one's breath at this height, It is impossible not to also catch a view of the beauty of nature's handiwork at altitude. My late buddy, author and old AC enthusiast Roger Welsch wrote a book "It's Not the End of the Earth, but You Can See It From Here."  I think about his humor and respect of old things as we take in the view, and then the steps are descended in rapid order to maintain the workout. 

When the bottom is reached, and we gaze back at the top of the bin and we remember the purpose of the exercise was to check the latch on the top lid as my brother/Dr./partner couldn't remember if he secured it or not = 24 steps back up to the top plus the climb to the pinnacle — not in the plan and not a good argument for promoting an agile mind.  I am easily distracted, anyway ...

Oil change setups and tummy crunches. We have 18 plus tractors on the farm that are usually past due for oil changes. (My wife thinks we have only 6 — so don't mention numbers.) There is not a better workout than getting on a creeper or mat or piece of plywood and scooting under the needy beasts and struggling to loosen the partially stripped oil plugs. One trip to the floor never does it. 

We can gather every size wrench in the toolbox and inevitably the one needed will be the one that we lost last week helping Cousin Willard loosen his thingmajig. So, we buttock walk out from under the frame, sit up, bang the head or shoulder,  and then struggle to search for the elusive 13/16 inch open-end wrench, a hammer, and return. Bring a bucket? No, so another stomach crunch up and down and in and out.  Bring a filter? No — another sit up, and so it continues 'til a six pack is developed — or consumed. (Diet soda waters— my mother-in-law reads these.)

PTO Squat-Thrusts. There is not a better lower back and upper thigh workout than hooking up a rusty power take off shaft to a slightly twisted spline on the tractor’s PTO. This task is made much easier with shields developed by demonic safety engineers. All one has to do is spit on one’s hands, grab a greasy 98-pound floppy constant velocity shaft, straddle the lower link or drawbar — extend it an arm’s length while all the time pulling back on a latch collar and pushing the shaft forward onto the splines. 

After the weight is supported by the tractor’s PTO, a final effort seats the unit home. Then just to be sure, one tugs back on the shaft to be sure it is locked on, only to pull it off and have its slinky-like properties land on an ingrown toenail. Now the vocal cord workout occurs along with a crotch hop holding the pinched finger and then the process is repeated again. One can also count the calories burnt while dialing the chiropractor and then crawling across the parking lot to the exam as a bonus in this exercise.

We could go on describing the Clean and Jerk as in changing the flat tire on the pickup, the stretch routine of backing a 4-wheel wagon into a narrow shed as you turn the head 180 degrees over each shoulder checking the progress, the triceps workout you get from zig-zagging on the zero-turn while mulching leaves in 'S' shaped windrows to confuse your neighbors, or the Shoulder Shrugs exercise when your wife asks what have you been doing and if you have lost your ever loving mind.

Yes, every implement dealer should be as blessed as we are to have a farm to go to where one can relieve the stress from work and get the desperately needed cardio workouts afforded by it. Why should our customers have all the fun, eh? Finally, I have to admit to taking a few shortcuts, like the idea of using an electric snow blower in lieu of a corn scoop to clean out the grain bin behind the auger sweep, but that's a story we will leave till next Halloween.

'Till next time wishing you miles of smiles and prosperity ... and healthy workouts and the will power of moderation while enjoying our abundance of food with family and friends. 

Told from the perspective of an in-the-trenches owner/operator — Tim Brannon of B&G Equipment, Paris, Tenn. —  Equipment Dealer Tips, Tales & Takeaways shares knowledge, experiences and tips/lessons with fellow rural equipment dealerships throughout North America. Covering all aspects required of an equipment dealership general manager, Brannon will inform, entertain and provide a teachable moment for current — and future — leaders within equipment dealerships.



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